Sunday, July 31, 2005

the software mountain

I commented to a teacher the other day that I hadn't done much study of learning theory over the past five years because I had been too busy learning software.

It's true and it's a problem.

Here's a categorised list of software I've either just used or decided to learn or improve my skills in over the past five years, with some brief comments:

Desktop applications:
Access - I spent many hours learning Access and Relational Data Base theory since I had to teach it to Year 12s in 2001-02
Word - don't laugh, I've learnt a lot of new things about Word, it's massive
Excel - have just used for my marks book, haven't improved skills here
Powerpoint - I've always resisted using it but have recently started
Publisher - I can now do a good letterhead and newsletter from scratch but still need to learn more
Open Office - I had a serious shot at learning Writer (Word equivalent) and Calc (Excel equivalent) but wasn't satisfied with them. Now that Open Office 2 is about to be released I plan to have another go
Inspiration - concept mapping software
CMAP - free version of concept mapping software
Copernic - for quick searching of my files
Nero - burning CDs
iTunes - played around with it after buying my daughter an iPod

Image manipulation:
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) - I use this to teach since it's nearly equivalent to PhotoShop and Open Source, so I can give it to students to take home
IrfanView - for simple image manipulation
PhotoShop CS - I've learnt some of this to help my daughter in her Visual Arts Course

Web site construction:
HTML Kit - fully fledged HTML and style editor, not perfect but I like it, it has a free single user license but you have to pay for school license
CSS - Cascading Style Sheets. I've spent a long time on these so as to make my web site look good and I teach them too.
XML - have only dabbled with it but would like to do more
Firefox - best browser of course, couldn't live without tab browsing
Amaya - the W3C editor, I'm interested in anything recommended by W3C plus I had a brief look at MathsML, how to represent mathematical expressions on the web
NVU - possibly the best open source, free editor around
SVG - Scalable Vector Graphics. I became quite interested in these for a while but have stopped for the time being because you need a plugin to display them and most people haven't got it
Blogger - I've looked under the lid a bit, done a bit with the HTML and style, but not much yet
Zope - Web editor, written in Python
Plone - Content Management Framework (CMF) built on top of Zope, I'm still thinking about moving all my web materials to Plone
TAL - Template Attribute Language, it's part of Zope
DTML - Document Template Markup Language, also part of Zope

Web applications:
Google - have looked at Advanced Search features, that's all
Wikipedia - have joined and played in the Sandbox but haven't got into posting entries yet
Flickr - photo sharing and storage on the web - social bookmarks, I use this every day

Audacity - Open source sound editor, I've only learnt the basics
Bryce - this makes 3D backgrounds and sprites, I've only has a quick look at it so far

Game Maker - this has become one of my core teaching programs so I've spent a lot of time with it
Javascript - I've learnt the basics but need to learn more
DOM - Document Object Model. Ditto Javascript.
Dynamic HTML - by putting the Javascript and DOM together
Visual Basic - I has to teach this to Year 12s too, in 2001-02
Python - I think it's a good language and would like to spend more time with it

So, what's my point?

That it's hard to get the time to read books and explore learning theory when there's so much software that needs to be learnt.

That IT teachers should receive some extra sort of recognition / money / time if they are prepared to do all this ongoing learning

That education departments and school managements don't seem to be remotely aware of what is required to keep up with being an IT teacher these days.


Anonymous Roland said...

That is a huge list! I can now see the difficult position that IT teachers find themselves in. Glad to read that you are willing to give OpenOffice 2 another try. Reminds me to have another look at Gimp :-)

8:30 PM  

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